Researchers around the world are looking at improving the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). They are also looking at how the immune system fights NETs and the quality of life of people with this disease.
Go to Cancer Research UK's clinical trials database if you are looking for a trial for pancreatic NETs in the UK. You need to talk to your specialist if there are any trials that you think you might be able to take part in.
Research and clinical trials
All cancer treatments must be fully researched before they can be used for everyone. This is so we can be sure that:
- they work
- they work better than the treatments already available
- they are safe
Research into diagnosis
Doctors often use radioactive scans such as octreotide scans and PET scans to help diagnose NETs. They can also show whether the tumour has spread to another part of the body.
You usually have an injection of a radioactive substance (a tracer) before the scan. This helps to show up the neuroendocrine tumour cells. Researchers are looking at different types of tracers to see if it can show up NET cells better. One new tracer is called 18F-FET-βAG-TOCA.
Research into the immune system and NETs
Researchers are looking at how the immune system responds to NETs. And at how treatment with chemotherapy and targeted cancer drugs can affect the immune cells inside these tumours.
Immunotherapy uses our immune system to fight cancer. Researchers aim to use the results of these studies to see whether immunotherapy can help people with NETs.
Immunotherapy drugs that are being looked at in clinical trials include:
Research into treatment
Doctors are looking at new drugs that stop your body from making too many hormones. Researchers think that this will slow down neuroendocrine tumour growth. These drugs are called somatostatin analogues. Somatostatin analogues that doctors are currently looking at include:
- lanreotide autogel
Doctors are looking for new ways to help people with NETs that have spread to another part of the body. Lenvatinib is a targeted cancer drug. It works by blocking certain proteins that help cells to grow blood vessels. All cancer cells need blood vessels to survive and grow. Doctors think that lenvatinib might stop the cancer from growing.
Other targeted drugs that are being looked at in clinical trials include:
Chemotherapy is a possible treatment for pancreatic NETs. Two chemotherapy drugs often used are streptozocin and fluorouracil. Doctors are looking at how well these chemotherapy drugs work before and after a targeted drug called everolimus.
Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT)
PRRT is a type of internal radiotherapy. This means giving radiation from inside the body. PRRT uses a radioactive substance which you have as a drip into a vein. Researchers want to see how well PRRT work for people with pancreatic NETs.
Researchers are looking into PRRT using 2 different radioactive substances.
Research into the quality of life
Doctors are looking at how the treatment and illness affect people with NETs. These are called quality of life studies.
One study is looking at how a mobile application (App) might help with recording symptoms and side effects of treatment. Researchers want to see if using this type of technology can improve quality of life for people with a NET.